Margaret Thatcher to get hometown statue
After being rejected in London over concerns about “potential vandalism and civil disorder,” a statue of the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has finally found a home in the town of her birth.
The town of Grantham, in central England, agreed to house the statue with one important condition: that the controversial 10.5-foot monument stands atop an equally tall granite plinth to help evade politically motivated vandals.
Grantham’s local council announced on Tuesday that the bronze of the town’s “most famous daughter” will be placed on a “suitably high plinth.” By the time it is erected, the entire structure will be more than 20 feet tall.
Britain’s first female Prime Minister, dubbed the “Iron Lady” in the 1970s, remains a deeply polarizing figure in Britain, arousing both admiration and animosity. She is credited with championing “popular capitalism” in Britain and helping the country, which was in decline, punch above its weight in international affairs.
During her time as prime minister from 1979 to 1990, she emphasized the rights of the individual versus those of the state, and the UK fought a short war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
But her efforts to reform Britain’s economy saw her reduce or eliminate many government subsidies to businesses, a move that led to a sharp rise in unemployment. By 1986, unemployment had reached 3 million.
Some blame Thatcher for wrecking British manufacturing. They say it was under her policies that chronic underspending on Britain’s public services created problems that are still apparent today.
“Whatever your views, the statue will undoubtedly attract more visitors to the town, which can only be good news for Grantham’s local economy, bringing benefits and opportunities for residents and local businesses,” Councilor Matthew Lee, leader of South Kesteven District Council, said in a press release.
Intensity of feeling
The statue’s journey to the town has been a long one. It was initially meant to stand in a square opposite Parliament in London, alongside a statue of wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, but the plan was scrapped last year by Westminster Council due to the risk of “potential vandalism and civil disorder,” the AFP news agency reports.
The statue, designed by sculptor Douglas Jennings, depicts Thatcher in robes, with her hands folded before her.
Vandalism concerns prompted one councilor in Grantham to suggest it be placed “in the middle of a pond” to stop people climbing it, the UK’s Press Association news agency reported.
Lincolnshire Police initially recommended the high plinth and for the council to choose a site “that benefits from good natural surveillance as well as lighting and CCTV (security cameras),” according to a report submitted to the council. They however cautioned that the statue “could be” besieged by vandals.
“There remains a motivated far-left movement across the UK (though not so much in Lincolnshire) who may be committed to public activism. Margaret Thatcher does however maintain an element of emblematic significance to many on the left,” the report added.
The £300,000 ($390,000) project will be paid for by donations raised by a British historical charity, according to AFP.